Imatges de pàgina
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special favour and providence of God, annexed unto his sanctuary, the principal cause thereof must needs be in regard of common prayer."

God, my brethren, requires not from us our homage as necessary to his all-perfect felicity, but because it promotes the dignity, perfection, and happiness of our own souls. With the services of his church are connected our advancement in piety and virtue, and our preparation for his heavenly kingdom. Vain must be our hope of taking part in the prayers of heaven, if we do not delight in the worship of God on earth.

My brethren, would you be established in every holy grace and virtue, and would you be prepared for partaking of the ineffable bliss of the heavenly courts, unite, at every opportunity, with sincerity and reverence, in the worship of the earthly sanctuary. It is our privilege to enjoy a form of public service admirably fitted for all the purposes of devotion; solemn and reverential in its adoration of God; penitent and humiliating in its confessions. of sin; comforting and enlivening in its view of the divine mercy in Jesus Christ; various, appropriate, and affecting in its supplications for the supply of our temporal and spiritual necessities; animating and fervent in its offices of praise and thanksgiving. Enjoying these distinguished advantages, we shall be without excuse, if we fail to worship God with zeal, and fervour, and reverence, and devotion. Let us then enter his temple with hearts impressed with reverence for his great and glorious name-with lively views of his mercy, his power, and his goodness-with a recollection of our unworthiness, of our many and great necessities; and "let us worship, and fall down; let us

kneel before the Lord our Maker." "Praise the Lord, O our souls; and all that is within us, praise his holy name." The services of the church on earth will thus prepare us for the perfect and blissful services of that church and temple which is eternal in the heavens. That such may be the issue to every worshipper in this temple, God of his infinite mercy grant.

SERMON XXI.

ON UNDUE SOLICITUDE ABOUT OUR WORLDLY CONDITION.

MATTHEW vi. 34.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow.

THIS precept appears at variance with the constitution of human nature. Man's thoughts, desires, hopes, and fears are fixed on the objects around him: however prosperous may be his present state, be either beholds in the gay visions of hope, brighter joys yet to be realized; or sees in the gloomy scene which a melancholy fancy paints, future evils clouding his course. The calamities which oppress him are either mitigated by the hope of a speedy deliverance, or increased by the apprehension of still greater evils which the future may disclose; and however he may be occupied with the business of to-day, his mind contemplates with solicitude that which is to succeed. It would appear, therefore, impossible for man, thus swayed by desire, by his hopes and his fears-thus eager, active, and aspiring-to "take no thought for the morrow."

But let us ascertain the meaning of this precept, and it will appear conformable to the constitution of human nature, and essential both to our virtue and to our peace.

Like many other passages in this sermon of our Saviour, it is a strong expression, obviously not to

be understood literally: it must be interpreted according to the dictates of common sense, and to other declarations of the sacred writings; and thus interpreted, it evidently prohibits only an undue solicitude about our condition in the world, and the events which may befall us. It does not interdict the formation of plans for our temporal comfort and advancement.

What, then, does it not prohibit-and what does it forbid?

1. It does not prohibit us from forming plans for the future.

2. It does not prohibit us from guarding against possible evils.

3. It does not prohibit us from seeking any lawful advantages or enjoyments.

1. It does not prohibit us from forming plans for our future condition.

To form comprehensive plans of action, on an enlarged view of our interests and duties, is the dictate of true wisdom. He who acts only for the present moment, and not in reference to his future condition, and to future contingencies, cannot indulge the expectation of success in his plans. The support and the enjoyment of life, and its numerous connexions of kindred and society, all impose on us the obligation to seek, according to the opportunities which may be presented, and in due subordination to the higher objects of an eternal world, our advancement and happiness in the present. These cannot be secured but by the exercise of that prudence and that foresight which look beyond the present moment, and judiciously plan for the future. Diligence and industry in providing

for the time to come, so far from being prohibited, are enjoined. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard," says the voice of inspiration;" consider her ways, and be wise." "Not slothful in business" an inspired apostle hath ranked in the same station with being "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;" and the curse of apostacy is denounced against him who neglects a diligent provision for the wants of those dependent on him. "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." That thought for our worldly condition, therefore, which leads to a prudent provision for it, our Saviour could not design to prohibit.

2. Nor, secondly, could he design to prohibit us from guarding against possible evils.

This is a most powerful impulse of nature. Evils indeed are allotted us in this state of probation, as part of that mysterious but merciful discipline which is to purify us from sin, and render us meet for those eternal joys for which our nature is destined. But our duty consists in the patient endurance of the evils which befall us, and in the profitable improvement of them-not in courting them: this would be an impious intrusion on the prerogatives of the Sovereign Disposer of events, who, in his holy providence, allots and regulates the evils of the world. The calamities which, for purposes infinitely wise and good, he absolutely decrees shall befall us, no foresight nor prudence can avert. But there are other evils which are suspended on our own conduct. These may be warded off by prudence and foresight. The exercise of these, therefore, in guarding against possible VOL. II.

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